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Coach of FC Vasas (Hungary) Michael Onning: In autumn RB Leipzig played without a strong pressure. It’s rivals might have a second chance

Михаэль Оннинг
Фото: Imago/Vostock-photo

SC Freiburg and FC Bayern opened the second half of the German season. Sports Daily has appealed to the football coach Michael Onning as to an expert, who currently works with the Hungarian Vasas Budapest, and in the Bundesliga used to manage HSV and Nuremberg. At the same time, 51-year-old Onning is a consultant to the International School of Sports Management (based on the MIRBIS Institute), which currently continues to recruit those who wish to become specialists in the field of sports (mail address, program website - Mba / sport.htm).

— Michael, with Russia and St. Petersburg, you are connected by the fact that you worked as an assistant to Dick Advocaat in Borussia Mönchengladbach. Did you enjoy those times?
— Of course, it was a memorable time. For me, working with the Dutch coach was an important incentive for development, because on these basics of this school – a game of single touch, a rapid movement of the ball, pressure – relied all modern football. In addition, Dick is a very interesting person, who knows many details of the game.

— Nevertheless, in Gladbach, he worked only a few months having failed. What was the reason? Have not the club bought too many players right after his arrival?
— Perhaps Dick came to Borussia not at the best moment. German football in 2005 was not the same as it is nowadays, the clubs could not fully rely on their and claim high places. Advocaat wanted to play in European competitions, and that was the reason why the players came from Holland, Belgium. Actually, there was not enough time to build a team. However, I am sure now it would be much easier. After that, Advocaat proved his professional level both in Korea and in Russia.

— We have another common acquaintance: Ivan Sayenko, who was with you in the Nuremberg.
— We did not work long, but I know that the Nuremberg fans were fond of Saenko, because he was there when the club won the German Cup in 2007. Good striker, though, then he had injuries.

— After he moved from Germany to Russia, he was rumored that he had problems with the regime ...
— Really? I did not notice anything like that about him. Absolutely normal player.

— Was it difficult for you to come to the Nuremberg after Hans Mayer, who led the team to the cup victory?
— I would not talk about the difficulties, because my period of work in the Nuremberg was very successful, with a very young team we managed to join the Bundesliga. It was a good time. (Nuremberg beat in the play-offs Energie from Cottbus 5:0 — Sports Daily).

— Over the past two years, your current club Vasas has not spent and has not received a single euro cent in the transfer market. Is it easy or difficult to work in such conditions, and again with a very young team?
— At this exact moment it is easy, because there are really many young guys in the team who are not even 23 yet. They trust me, they want to grow and prove themselves. Eighty percent of the team members are Hungarians. I do not know which situation in other clubs and countries is, but for now, I am comfortable and easy here. For example, it is amazing how the team took the 3-4-3 scheme, and how everyone tries to realize our ideas on the pitch. Sometimes I am impressed by the ability of the team to show great game cuts playing with a single touch, which means that the potential is being revealed right before our eyes. Local youth is focused only on football, it is not distracted by television, advertising and other things that football players of their age are already facing somewhere else. It is evident that players have the desire to get into the best European leagues.

— You are in Vasas, Thomas Doll is in Ferencvárosi, Bernd Stork and Andreas Moeller are in the national team of Hungary. Is it possible to talk about an intentional German influence on the whole development of football in Hungary now?
— I think it is. But essentially it is not that we are all from Germany, but the fact that the country has the opportunity to feel a new life, adopt a new approach and look at football in a different way. There were drawbacks here, which had already begun to be eliminated. Hungary is only at the beginning of the way to the reorganization of its football. Of course, there are plans to create clubs and their academies.

— Until recently, the football infrastructure in Hungary was, with no fear to say, miserable. Is the situation here changing as well?
— Significantly. 5-6 completely new stadiums have appeared, and I believe that in three years each club of the top division will have the modern stadium. It turned out, In Hungary people are very fond of sport and they seem to love it more and more. They would like to hold both the Olympics and the European Football Championship here. Potential is noticeable.

— Still, you invited a couple of players from Germany to help you in Vasas. Right-back defender Felix Burmeister moved from Arminia Bielefeld, also you took the risk to take striker Mahir Saglik, who left with a scandal Paderborn last season (several players were taken out of the main team allegedly for an unprofessional attitude. German media later held the opinion that coach Stefan Effenberg acted in favor of the authoritarian club president Wilfried Finke - Sports Daily)…
— Saglik is a wonderful guy and an excellent player! In Paderborn he became a victim of circumstances under coach Stefan Effenberg, but in fact he did prove several times his level of playing - even in Wolfsburg, where he was not so long. I am glad to have him, because Saglik is motivated, wants to gain experience of playing abroad and is very helpful with his experience for our young team.

— About Effenberg: do you think that he will ever be able to try to become a coach?
— I do not know. Did not really follow his work in Paderborn, but ... No, I do not know if he will be able to return.

— In your opinion, does the situation with the invitation of Carlo Ancelotti instead of Josep Guardiola work in a proper way for FC Bayern? Do you agree with the theory that the club management has not pressurized the Catalan because it wanted to get a coach with a less philosophical, but more practical bias, in order to win the Champions League finally?
— It seems to me that in the case with Guardiola, the main thing was that he wanted to leave. As for Ancelotti, I think, FC Bayern under his management is about as strong as it was under Guardiola’s. These trainers have a completely different approach. Under the Catalan players were required to have 100 percent concentration in solving tactical tasks - for organizing pressure, combinations. Ancelotti is a wise coach, he took off a little of this level of tension. But at the end of the first part of the championship we saw that FC Bayern is no worse than last year, that the new coach is also able to build his game. I think it will take a little more time, and the team will be able to solve any problems. It should get to the semi-finals of the Champions League and win in Germany at least.

— Is it good For German football is that FC Bayern this year has become «closer to the people»?
— For the media, perhaps, there is the focus on the question whether FC Bayern will become the champion. In the club, I am sure this is not being questioned. The fact that FC Bayern is not that ahead of the pursuers, as before, is logical - a new coach came, with a completely different approach, and there is mutual adaptation. In addition, the injuries of leading players constantly interfere, like of Boateng, for example. Of course, problems of the Munichers fit the intrigue in the championship - they are beneficial to clubs like RB Leipzig and Borussia Dortmund as well. But all the same it will be very difficult to compete with FC Bayern.

— Do you take RB Leipzig seriously and its success as well?
— This club is on a wave of success, the team managed to get to the Bundesliga, for the players this is a new challenge and emotions. It has fallen on everyone very unexpectedly. RBL played without pressure and expectations, and did it quite well. There are miracles in football, of course, but I do not think that this season something supernatural will happen. Now all the teams have the chance to play with RB Leipzig once more. We will see.

— RB Leipzig itself has already started to provide the team with a pressure. The owner Dietrich Mateschitz publicly announced they want to play in the European Cups...
— That RBL is able to achieve this, I am 100 percent sure. Good players, there is a game balance... There would not be many competitors: Hertha, Hoffenheim, Schalke, theoretically Gladbach and Leverkusen. But RB Leipzig performance is strong enough to claim even a second or third place.

— Do you know the striker worth 200 million euros?
If you are talking about Borussia Dortmund and Aubameyang, then all these conversations are not entirely realistic. Even though China has appeared in the market. In fact, there are still Messi and Ronaldo! (Laughing).

— What were the problems of Borussia in the first round and will they be eliminated in the second round?
— I would say that there was a lack of balance. There were very successful matches, especially in the Champions League, but there were absolutely disastrous as well. Dortmund had problems with the reservists, it was clear that the big difficulties were caused by injuries and disqualifications of the main players. Perhaps the coaching staff did not have enough time to reorganize the squad properly.

— Perhaps, Thomas Tuchel should be calmer in difficult situations, and put less pressure on players?
— It's his business! His style. As every coach has. Jürgen Klopp also had different periods in Dortmund. None of us knows what exactly is happening in the locker room. Of course, we can feel it, when things go wrong with the team, and defeats aggravate the situation. But in a global sense, this is something that media is worried about, believe me.

— Do you think that Leverkusen will be able to rise again under Roger Schmidt, as it happened last season, or should the leadership take a total change of the course?
— The next 3-4 matches will show where the club is moving. Last season there was really something similar, but that time the management decided to work a little with the team, not with the coach, and this turned out to be the right decision. Leverkusen was really not so good lately, but whatever happens, there is always a task to get into the Champions League. I do not believe that the team will not try to return everything.

— Do you like the energy-consuming performance style of Bayer Leverkusen, or is it sometimes time to slow down?
— I like the intensity of their performance, also that they always try to drive the opponent under a pressure, and that they are looking for space to attack. However, sometimes there are «fifty-fifty» situations, and if you started attack with a large number of players and made a mistake, it could be quite difficult to fix it. Perhaps Leverkusen needs more balance. But if the coach has a certain philosophy, it needs to be followed and believed. After all, Bayer used to good by playing such football.

— What changes should we expect from Borussia Monchengladbach with the new coach Dieter Hecking?
— Perhaps the team will become a bit more defensive. It is time to change something, a good game from last season has left, and it is not that easy to return it. Well, there is a need to establish a proper communication between the coach and the players, which, in my opinion, was lost before the Hecking arrival.

— Schalke suffered for a long time from a lack of players because of injuries, but, except for Burgsteiner from the Nuremberg, there was no one being acquired...
— In the winter it is difficult to buy - because the players you really need are not in the market during this period. Or they are very expensive. German clubs do not like to spend money in January. Those who are injured in Schalke will recover soon and, I think, if it turns out well to start, the team will climb higher and higher.

— Is the 29-year-old coach of TSG Hoffenheim Julian Nagelsmann a modern fashion or a logically justified phenomenon?
— I know him, he is very special. Typically, if the coach is younger than some of the players are, they can perceive him in a wary way. But Julian early retired due to injury, Hoffenheim is also a special club, where everyone knows him, and he also knows all players for a long time. And so the process goes on as it should. This is, rather, an exceptional situation. Of course, the 29-year-old coach in the Bundesliga will not be able to work that way with no reason for that.

— Is the transfer of Julian Draxler from Wolfsburg to PSG for 40 million euros a recognition of his talent or a very profitable deal for the «wolves»?
— I believe this is the last chance for Draxler to show whether he really is a star. Many people believed in this for a long time, but those advances have not been confirmed for a long time. Maybe in one, two, three games, but never during the whole season or tournament. Now, in fact, his career is being decided. PSG is a great club, you must prove yourself having such a chance. Everything depends now only on the Draxler himself.

— While you are working with Hungarian youth, the former player of the Hungarian national team Pal Dardai is trying to bring Hertha to the Champions League. How do you think, will he manage to do so by the second attempt?
— Hertha looks very good. It does not show anything supernatural, but does everything possible to achieve the goal that you have just outlined. A brave team, it plays with great passion. Competitors have much stronger squads, but Hertha prevails because of collective interaction. It has a chance.

— Finally about one of your former clubs: were you surprised by the resignation of Dietmar Beiersdorfer from Hamburg?
— For me there was nothing special about this news, I did not have time to cross with Beiersdorfer in Hamburg. And in general now I do not keep in touch with HSV. It was clear that the club was looking for changes, since so much money was invested, and the results did not come.

Translation: Yulia Kartashova

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